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French President Emmanuel Macron’s telephone on behalf of Morocco, potentially targeting Pegasus spyware: report

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French daily Le Monde reported on Tuesday that the telephone of French President Emmanuel Macron was on a list of potential targets for potential surveillance on behalf of Morocco in the Pegasus spyware case.

The French presidency said that if the Macron phone revelations were true, they would be very serious. Authorities will investigate to shed all the necessary light on the reports, the report said.

Le Monde said that, according to sources, one of Macron’s phone numbers, which he has regularly used since 2017, is on a list of numbers selected by Morocco’s intelligence service for potential cyber espionage.

Morocco issued a statement Monday denying any involvement in the use of the Pegasus and denying what it called “unfounded and false accusations.” Moroccan officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday’s announcement of Macron.

Former French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 ministers were also targeted in 2019, Le Monde reported.

An investigation published Sunday by 17 media organizations led by the Paris-based non-profit journalist group Forbidden Stories said spyware, created and licensed by the Israeli company NSO, was used in attempts and successful attempts to hack journalists’ smartphones. global government officials and human rights defenders.

On Sunday, the NSO issued a statement rejecting reports from media partners, saying they were “full of wrong assumptions and unconfirmed theories.” Its product is intended only for use by government intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and crime, the report said.

An NSO spokesman did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on Tuesday, according to Le Monde and other French media reports about Macron.

Le Monde stressed that he does not have access to Macron’s phone and therefore cannot verify if he was indeed spied on, but he can check other phones, including the phone of former Environment Minister François de Ruga, and was able to confirm that the latter spied. …

Also on Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into claims by the news site Mediapart and two of its journalists that they were spied on by Morocco using the Pegasus spyware.

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“The only way to sort this out is for the judiciary to conduct an independent investigation into widespread espionage organized in France by Morocco,” Mediapart said in a statement.

The statement of the Paris prosecutor does not mention Morocco, but only says that it decided to open an investigation after receiving a complaint from Mediapart and its reporters.

The Guardian, one of the media outlets involved in the investigation, said the investigation indicated “widespread and ongoing abuse” of NSO hacking software. He described it as malware that infects smartphones, allowing it to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls, and secretly activate microphones.

Earlier on Tuesday, NSO Group founder Julio Shalev told Tel Aviv radio station 103 FM that Pegasus’ published list of alleged targets was “not affiliated with NSO.”

“The platform we are building prevents terrorist attacks and saves lives,” he said in an interview.

Julio said that in its 11 years of existence, NSO has worked with 45 countries and abandoned nearly 90 countries. He declined to name any of them.

“I think this will eventually end with a judgment in our favor after we file libel claims because we have no other choice,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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